Shopping for Christmas can be very stressful. The long lines, the empty shelves, the deals that turn out to be not-so-great, and the gimmicks – oh the gimmicks. However, if you’re smart about it, you can escape the negative aspects of Christmas shopping, get everything that you wanted to buy, and still make it home in time to relax by the fire with a hot cup of cocoa.
Plan Your Route
Before you even step foot out of the house, plan out your route. That way, you won’t be wandering around town thinking about where you should go. Many people want Christmas to be spontaneous, so they don’t really plan out where they will go. They just go, hoping that they’re run into a good deal on something that “looks nice.”
This is especially a problem for “hard to shop for” people. But, this is probably the worst way to shop. It forces you into a shopping game where you can’t possibly come out alive with your sanity. Think about it. You’re willingly going into the commercial wilderness completely unarmed (i.e. without a plan). Then, you’re hoping to somehow snag your meal (i.e. the gifts). At best, even if you do get something, it’s going to be because of luck. No good.
With a plan, you map out which stores you’ll go to, and which ones you’ll avoid. Don’t get caught up in the gimmicks some stores play with discounts and “door busters.” Get what you planned on getting and no more. Shop for value, not on price.
Coordinate With Friends and Family
Coordinate efforts with friends and family that you might be shopping with. For example, if you’ll be out shopping for the kids, and you want to take your sister or spouse with you, make sure that everyone knows when you’re leaving.
It seems so obvious, but this kind of stuff is almost always overlooked in the rush to just get the shopping done. Slow down. Spend some time coordinating who is buying what, and then who is traveling with whom.
Look For Coupons
Just because you should primarily shop on value (get what people really want, instead of just buying what’s on sale because it’s on sale), doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to save money on those items if you can. Coupons are a great way to extend the Christmas budget.
Another under-appreciated way to save on Christmas, or extend the budget, is to hunt down unwanted gift cards online. Believe it or not, some people receive gift cards for birthdays, and even holidays, but they don’t want them.
So, they sell them to various online outlets a a discount for cash. Then, those outlets turn around and resell them. You can usually find these discounted gift cards ranging from 2 to 20 percent off. So, in other words, you might be able to pick up a gift card worth $20 for $19 or even $15.
Finally, you can skip the hoopla altogether by shopping online. Get yourself a few online coupon codes and just go to town on sites like Amazon.com, Overstock, and Walmart.com. Between those sites, you should be able to buy just about anything.
There’s another benefit to shopping this way too – you don’t have to wrap anything if you choose the right retailers. Sites like Amazon, for example, will gift wrap your items.